The Rotterdam Little League 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars were a team on a mission.
Rotterdam piled up a 14-0 record on its way to winning the district, section and state tournaments.
The All-Stars dedicated their playoff run to fellow Rotterdam Little League player Tyler De-Marco, who has been battling cancer since the start of the league season. The team brought a sign honoring DeMarco with them to each of the tournaments.
Before every game, they'd gather in front of the sign and say a prayer to Tyler, said Rotterdam manager Tony LaRue.
Rotterdam played inspired ball during its playoff run. The All-Stars outscored their opponents 189-42, had a team batting average of .469 and belted 24 home runs in their 14 games. Eight of their games ended in the 10-run mercy rule.
The only time Rotterdam was challenged was in last week's state tournament championship game against Geddes from suburban Syracuse. Geddes built a 9-6 lead entering the sixth inning before Rotterdam rallied for a 13-9 victory.
Justin Cullam had the big hit for Rotterdam in the top of the sixth inning with an RBI double to drive in the go-ahead run. Brandon Laventure followed with a two-run single, and Brandon LaRue added an RBI double to cap the scoring.
It was the first state title for a Rotterdam Little League team at any age level since 1975.
"It was quite an achievement because Rotterdam Little League has about 400 players, and the teams that we faced came from leagues that had between 1,100 and 1,600 players," said coach LaRue.
Rotterdam reached the state finals by beating up on its competition. The All-Stars opened the tournament with a 13-3 victory over Batavia in the first game of pool play, and then they downed Geddes 15-2 in the second game.
Chris Hamilton led Rotterdam during pool play. Hamilton belted a triple and three singles against Batavia, and then he launched two home runs and a single against Geddes. Cullam added a home run and a double in the Geddes game.
Rotterdam continued its dominance in a 16-6 semifinal victory over Pearl River. Laventure hit three homers, while Kyle Jasenski and Tyler Struffolino each added a double and two singles. Hamilton allowed two hits over the final 5.2 innings to pick up the victory.